The seat of Klickitat County. Brick buildings, new and ancient, front on the well-paved main street. Loggers, farmers, mill-men in pitch-spotted “tin” pants, and cattlemen, some with chaps, spurs, and ten-gallon hats, once strode the streets. Lumber and flour mills, box, sash, and door factories, dairying and diversified farming were the principal industries. The town was named after John J. Golden, who homesteaded here in 1863.
Goldendale lies at the southeastern edge of the Mount Adams Recreational Area, a region of lakes, streams, and forests, where game birds and a wide variety of trout and bass abound. The town is also on the old trail between The Dalles, Oregon, and Fort Simcoe. Today, Goldendale remains an agricultural community and is the largest city in Klickitat County.
John Golden was born in Pennsylvania in 1826 and came to California in September of 1852 as a gold seeker. He became a store keeper, seller of cattle and hogs. He went to the Frazer River in the spring of 1858 and eventually began cattle raising in the Klickitat Valley where most of his stock died during the winter of 1862. He later went into the lumber business owning sawmills and raised horses.